The Indy’s Concentration Guide


It’s now the time of year when sophomores are rushing about waving plans of study, overwhelmed by the enormity of the choice before them. Harvard offers more than forty possible concentrations covering virtually every possible interest, ranging from the enormous (Economics) to the tiny(Folklore and Mythology, Earth and Planetary Sciences).

We’ve prepared a selection of opinions from people who have already made the decision you’re facing now to help you decide. This isn’t just a list of concentrations and requirements; you can already find that in the Student Handbook. Instead, these are student perspectives on everything from perks (field trips abroad, all expenses paid; courses customized to the individual) to pains (deficiencies in advising; tiresome introductory classes).

Unfortunately, some concentrations failed to respond, mostly small ones — East Asian Studies, Linguistics, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Philosophy, Romance Languages and Literatures, Sanskrit and Indian Studies, and Statistics. We urge you not to hold this against them; sometimes Plato or the Great Vowel Shift is just too fascinating to leave, even for a moment.

By and large, juniors and seniors seem satisfied — some of them wildly enamored — with their concentrations, even if it took a little while to settle in and find the perfect fit. If you have trouble deciding now, don’t worry. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: you don’t have to have it all figured out right away. Plenty of people switch concentrations in their junior year without too much trouble; others find that initial struggles give
way to smoother sailing.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide said it best: DON’T PANIC. Everything’s going to be fine. We wish you the best of luck.

Patricia Florescu and Susan Zhu, Presidents
Faith Zhang, Editor-in-Chief